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France rolls out initial €45 billion package to help struggling companies

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said more relief for companies hit by the coronavirus outbreak would be announced in the coming days.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said more relief for companies hit by the coronavirus outbreak would be announced in the coming days. © Éric Piermont, AFP

France will mobilise 45 billion euros ($50.22 billion) in crisis measures to help its companies, with the economy expected to contract 1% this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday.

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Le Maire said a large part of the 45 billion euro figure was the deferral of all tax payments and payroll charges that companies were due to pay this month and the cancellation of such payments for firms at risk of collapse.

"We are going to mobilise 45 billion euros as our first immediate economic assistance to companies," Le Maire told French RTL radio. "We don't want bankruptcies."

The money comes in addition to 300 billion euros in government loan guarantees that President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday, Le Maire said.

>> Macron announces 15-day lockdown in French 'war' on coronavirus

He said he would produce a new budget bill "in a matter of hours" to reflect fallout from the virus and based on a forecast that the economy would contract 1% this year.

Asked whether the stock market should be closed in light of the economic turmoil, Le Maire said there were other things that could be done first such as banning short-selling, which he said the markets regulator was doing for 24 hours.

(REUTERS)

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